SINGAPORE (Aug 12): These established names tell us much about the country’s history

Killiney Kopitiam

Killiney, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, is definitely one of the icons of Singapore’s kopitiam (coffee shop) scene. In its early days, it was a humble Hainanese coffee shop on Killiney Road known for its fragrant coffees and charcoal-grilled breads.

In 1993, its current owner Woon Teck Seng took over the reins and has since evolved the business: expanding its menu to include a variety of local dishes; creating Killiney-branded products such as bottled kaya (coconut jam) and three-in-one coffee sachets; and even offering franchise opportunities. Now, there are more than 30 Killiney outlets all across Singapore, and its coffee shops can also be found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, China, Brunei and Cambodia.

While the brand has grown considerably, Woon has been careful not to stray too far from its roots. As he was a fan of the original kopitiam, Woon employed the old staff to continue making their signature coffee and house-made kaya to retain the original flavours of their star offerings. The charcoal grill is also a mainstay for its breads — a traditional way of grilling that requires a little more skill than the average electric toaster.

The original Killiney still stands at 67 Killiney Road, retaining its colonial-styled interiors from the early 1900s. Visit it for a dose of nostalgia.

Find out more at www.killiney-kopitiam.com.

Raffles Singapore

The Grand Dame of Singapore spent almost two years hidden behind hoardings as it underwent intense restoration. While it was business as usual for the most part, there were some sacrifices along the way. For example, its iconic Long Bar was temporarily moved to a smaller location to satisfy tourists’ desire for a Raffles-made Singapore Sling. But the wait is over, as the hoardings have come down. The hotel has a beautiful new coat of paint and the original Long Bar is fully restored. The hotel officially reopened on Aug 1.

Raffles has been around since 1887, making it a grand 132 years old this year. It is also said to be one of the last few remaining 19th-century hotels in the world. Many dignitaries, celebrities and even writers, such as W Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling and James A Michener, have visited or stayed here.

Did you know that Raffles was not always a hotel? It was once a seafront bungalow owned by Syed Ahmed Alsagoff. His son Syed Mohamed Alsagoff took over the estate and, with the help of the Sarkies brothers from Armenia, converted it into a hotel in 1887. Since then, the hotel has gone through several extensions and transformations, making it the vast property it is today.

While much of the structure has been refreshed, and the hotel has a few new additions, such as Anne-Sophie Pic’s three-Michelin-starred La Dame de Pic and a spanking new Raffles Spa, some things have not changed. You will still find the iconic, liveried Sikh doormen receiving guests at its ivory frontage. The signature gravel driveway is still there. And the Long Bar still makes a Singapore Sling the way bartender and creator Ngiam Tong Boon did in 1915.

See the refreshed Raffles Singapore at 1 Beach Road. Find out more at www.raffles.com/singapore.

Robinsons

When you think of shopping in the heart of Orchard Road, Robinsons is one name that comes to mind. Once a warehouse called Spicer and Robinson founded by John Spicer and Philip Robinson in 1858, the departure of Spicer from the partnership marked the beginnings of Robinson & Co in 1859.

Robinsons has evolved a lot through the years. Today, it is a premium department store with a few outlets carrying carefully curated, even limited-edition fashion and lifestyle merchandise. In its early days, however, Robinsons had a tailoring department, and even stocked musical instruments such as pianos and gramophones for music lovers.

The business has changed owners over the years, and is currently owned by Al-Futtaim Group, which has been instrumental in Robinsons’ shift towards a more high-end shopping and lifestyle experience.

Robinsons launched its e-commerce platform in 2016, and has outlets in Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai.

Eu Yan Sang

Traditional Chinese medicine has always been an important part of Singapore culture, and one brand that continues to thrive in this arena is Eu Yan Sang. It was in 1879 that Guangdong-born founder Eu Kong set up his first shop in Gopeng, Perak, dispensing Chinese medicine and herbs to tin miners who suffered from opium addiction.

It was his son, famous businessman Eu Tong Sen, who took the business beyond Perak, setting up tin mining and rubber plantation businesses across Malaya and Singapore, and a medical shop at each mine. The shops came to be known as Eu Yan Sang. Yan sang means “caring for mankind” in Chinese. Fast forward 140 years later, and Eu Yan Sang is a household name and a public--listed company, with a chain of 28 clinics and more than 180 retail outlets in -China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as over 40 outlets in Australia through associate company, Healthy Life.

Eu Yan Sang continues to innovate with new products to meet the evolving health and wellness needs of its customers. It even conducts workshops, from culinary sessions to tui na, to engage customers and give them a more holistic view of their health.

Find out more about Eu Yan Sang’s products and services at www.euyansang.com.sg.